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Baby Blues and all that Jazz

Oh, the Baby Blues.  Sometimes more seriously known as Postpartum Depression.  I always thought to myself, “it will never happen to me, I will keep it together, all it takes is some fresh air and sunshine and I’ll be fine, those crying moms are crazy.”  And then I had my baby.  And all semblance of a normal hormonal balance went straight out the window.  Along with my skinny jeans.  Nobody tells you that the simple little thing called the Baby Blues is nothing less than constant crying.  Like all the time.  Like hiding-in-the-shower-crying-into-the-tiled-walls-and-you-don’t-know-why crying.  It’s a powerless feeling of constantly being on the verge of tears.  It’s really no fun.

After I delivered our first baby, the constant crying (mine) had good reason.  Silly baby boy swallowed some of my blood before he was delivered.  It could have happened while I thoughtfully stood in the living room wondering if that gushing feeling was my imagination, or my water having broken.  I chose imagination.  Pure denial.  24 hours later, he arrived, and unfortunately earned a spot in the NICU for 6 brutally long days.  I cried in the hospital, I cried when I was released, I cried in my dinner, I cried in my sleep, I cried at the breast pump store, I cried before and after visiting him in the NICU, and eventually I cried when we brought him home because WHAT DO WE DO NOW crossed my mind 500 times.  I was a nightmarish mess and I am sure I was scaring my poor husband.  WHAT THE HELL probably crossed his mind 500 times.

But I physically could not stop the tears.  I cried at my 6 week OB check up and she tried to snap me out of it with a “you have a healthy baby!  he’s home!  you’re fine!”  and yes, that all made perfect logical sense, but I couldn’t squelch that knot that was lingering all day in my throat, my eyes threatening every five minutes to spill over.  In an effort to cheer me up, my husband sent me out to the store (a trip!) to get halloween candy for the Trick or Treaters.  Our baby was almost 10 days old and had been home for just 4.  He handed me a $100 bill and shooed me out the door.  I found myself in front of the candy aisle, depressed that just 10 days ago, people were smiling at me, my pregnancy obvious.  And here I was, 10 days post delivery, and not a soul in the store could tell what I had just been through.  To them I was probably just a chubby lady on the verge of tears, staring at some candy.  So I loaded up my cart, LOADED UP my cart, with every piece of giant candy bars I could grab.  I blanched when the check out lady declared “oh!  you must be having a Halloween party!”  When I got home, I carried in 2 of my 6 grocery bags of candy.  I stood in the doorway and my “let’s put on a happy face” husband came over to check out my purchases.  I walked back to the car for 2 more bags.  And then another 2 bags.  He looked up at me.  “Is there any change?”  I sobbed.  I think Oprah calls it the “Ugly cry.”  I had spent OVER $100 on Halloween candy for what would be only 14 Trick or Treaters.  Baby Blues.

When I became pregnant with baby #2, I figured, oh, I GOT this, I had discovered that some yummy food and fresh air and sunshine had eventually started to ease the hormonal horror show after baby #1.  I DECIDED I was not going to go through the Baby Blues again, I was an old pro at mommy hood, and nothing was going to get me down.  But then my husband had to leave the hospital to tend to our 2 year old at home.  And here I was, alone, with a little baby I barely knew, and she liked to cry, so I cried too.  The poor nurse came in to bring me water and I was mid-bawl.  I stupidly tried to hide it.  She asked me what was wrong.  “Nuh-thing, eh, eh eh, nuh-thing, Oh!  I can’t make it stop” and I lost it again.  She assured me it too would pass, that I’d feel better soon.  When my husband brought our 2 year old to visit mommy and baby sister, he had to talk me down off my crying ledge from his cell phone in the parking lot, worried I’d freak out our son.  I put on a brave face, but seeing our son pushed me over the edge and I lost it when they left.  When I was finally released and settling in at home, I thought I had the hormonal horror show beat, I was home, with my kids, and I knew what I was doing this time.  But then someone stopped by, brought our daughter a gift, and my 2 year old son dutifully kicked it across the room.  So I cried.  “I’m cheating on my son!  He hates me!” I wailed.  I was a mess.

You’d think I’d had enough.  But we decided to try for number 3.  This time, I told myself, would be different.  This baby was not a surprise, our 2 other children were old enough to be excited for a new brother, we were prepared, we had stuff, it was a good pregnancy, we were good.  I even laughed, “ha ha ha!  the hormones aren’t gonna find me this time!”  I am super funny.  And ignorant to the lack of control I have over the crying I do so well.  Baby #3 arrived with no issues in the wee early morning hours.  I held it together for quite a while.  A parade of friends and family made its way through my hospital room, and I was feeling good.  And then just like that, I was alone.  My kids were having fun at their grandparents’, my husband had to check things at work, and I found myself alone.  The nurse found me trying to change his diaper, I say “trying” because I could barely see what I was doing, my eyes were swimming I was bawling so badly.  “What’s wrong?”  she asked me.  “I don’t know!  I really don’t.  I swore I wouldn’t cry this time.  But I can’t stop!”  And that went on for most of the night.  I called my husband, hysterical, and declared it was time to get me out of the hospital and bring my hormones home.

My eyes were puffy for a good week after getting baby #3 home.  I was depressed, I was tired, and I was super duper sentimental.  I stared at baby pictures of my older children and wailed “ahhh!  they are growing up too fast!  I missed their childhoods! wah wah wah” and my poor husband tried to reason with me.  (I am a stay at home mom.  I really didn’t miss anything.)  But there is no reasoning with the hormonal horror show.

My sweet baby #3 was born at the end of June.  On July 1st, I cried.  “June is OVER!  wahhhhhhhhhhh!  We waited and waited and waited for June.  It’s his birth month and it’s over!  They grow up too quickly…”  I fully embraced the woe-is-me.  And then my 5 year old looked at me.  “Mommy, you’re crying again?  You don’t want us to grow up?”  He looked really freaked.  Yet he was very matter of fact.  And so I made a mental note to stop with the water works.  At least in front of the kids.


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We Be Swimmin’

We have a pool.  It’s awesome.  And it’s annoying.  And it’s cold mostly.  When I first laid eyes on our pool, it was night time and my fiance and I had just broken into the backyard of the house we were about to make an offer on.  It was your typical suburban 1950s shaped concrete pool, and we were excited to have found a house that fit our criteria and had a pool.  I had never lived in a house with a pool and I was excited.  Oh the parties we were going to have!  I was going to swim every weekend!  All weekend!  I was going to live in the pool.

And yes, in the beginning we had POOL PARTIES.  Lots of them.  And we swam a little bit, but mostly we just barbequed and drank margaritas and marveled at our pool.  And we’d say to our guests, “did you bring your suit?”  and they’d nod and say, “we’ll go in in a bit” and then we’d drink some more and eat even more, and we’d go as far as to put our feet in the pool, but no more than that.  Hot summer days would arrive, and my husband and I would sit in our house, with the AC blasting, and smile at our pretty pool through the windows.  “We’ll swim tomorrow,” we’d say.

After we had our first child, we reconfigured the backyard and installed an updated and secure pool fence.  “I hate the pool!”  I’d declare.  It took up real estate in our backyard, and it cost money to operate and clean and fix.  But then summer came around, and when my baby would take regular naps, I’d glance out the window in the midst of the laundry I was folding, and the shimmering pool would call to me.  I hesitated at first, but after a few hot days I figured out how to rig the baby monitor so I could hear the baby while swimming and I’d find myself lounging in the middle of the pool on a raft at least a couple days a week while the baby napped.  Ahhhh…luxury.  And then as my baby got older, my Mom friends would come over and we’d start the “let’s go swimming” preparations.  We’d get the babies in their swim diapers, put on their bathing suits, slather on the sunscreen, adorn their hats, blow up the toys, blow up the floaties, fill up the water bottles, put on swim worthy clothes (bathing suit months after having a baby?  no thanks), slather on our own sunscreen, gather the towels, and then FINALLY, we’d get our babies in the pool and let them splash and play and we’d semi-chat while fiercely gripping onto our children lest they get brave and try to actually swim.  10 minutes later, we were all out of the pool, exhausted from the ordeal, the kids wiped out and ready for naps.

And then I had another baby.  At that point my older kid was 2, and wouldn’t you know, he LOVED the pool by then.  But the logistics of a baby and a toddler in the pool was just not happening, at all at all at all.  However, I had learned the first time around how to rig the baby monitor at nap time, so when the baby fell asleep, my 2 year old and I would scramble through our swim preparations and we’d swim until his sister woke up, which was fine with him.  As the kids got older, I found that my luxury-swim-alone time was drastically disappearing, along with their naps.  Eventually I got brave enough to take both kids into the pool, when they were about 2 and 4 years old, and they’d take turns swimming with me.  One would play on the steps in their life jacket, while the other would play with me in the shallow end, practicing swimming to and from the steps, and working on their “monkey” crawls along the edge of the pool.  Once in a while our sweet golden retriever would ramble into the pool and do a lap or two, much to the delight of the kids, and then ramble on out and take a nap.  But I missed my luxury-swim-alone time.  So I got a little selfish and after a good hour in the pool, taking turns with the kids, I’d gather them up into their towels, sit them down in the sun to dry off, hand them some popsicles, and quickly jump back in the pool and do a few laps.  Sometimes they didn’t care, but other times they’d jump up and bang on the pool fence or just sit and wail.  “mommy!  come back!  we wanna swim too!  mommy!” and my luxury time would be over.

And now I have 3 kids.  Luxury swim time?  Just a myth.

So here’s how swim time goes right now.  Try hard to hide your jealousy, y’all.

It’s after school.  It’s hot.  My 4 and 6 year old kiddos want to swim.  My 10 month old has just started walking and wants to practice his skills.  Can’t blame the kid.  Afternoon nap is not happening.  So the older kids run and get their suits on.  I spray them down with sunscreen.  I grab 2 bath towels because the pool towels we used last week are still outside and are in rare form due to the crazy rain storm we had at the end of the week.  I grab some toys for the baby.  I grab the baby and we all go outside.  Our new dog sees we are about to open the pool gate and starts to wiggle and crash into the kids.  They scream.  I open the pool gate and usher the kids in.  The dog slips in and crash-splashes onto the front steps of the pool.  The kids scream again.  The baby is wiggling and wants to get down to get to steppin’.  I put the baby down and block him from the pool with chairs.  He is unaware of the fun in the pool and just practices walking between the chairs.  I stand guard, ready at a moment’s notice to simultaneously jump into the pool if need be or dive onto the cement to prevent walking-baby from falling.  All the while the dog is trying to save the kids from the pool by pulling on their suits.  They scream some more.  It’s kind of hot and I start to sweat.  The splashes from the pool annoy more than they refresh.  The wet dog shakes all over those of us not in the pool.  The baby is now soaking wet and a little muddy.  My 6 year old gets on a raft and drifts too far out for my comfort and I call to him (ie yell) to come back, which sets the dog on a running frenzy and she takes about 5 laps at lightning speed around the pool.  The kids scream some more.  I am on edge, but the kids are having lots of fun and expending fabulous amounts of energy, so I allow the chaos to ensue.  I make a mental note to apologize to my neighbors later for the racket.  I continue to straddle the world of the pool and the walking baby for a good 40 minutes until I can take no more, and really, the dog can take no more, that I call it off and gather up my kiddos and herd them back into the house for another activity, wondering how many hundreds of calories I burned just from stress.

Luxury swim time?  With a margarita?  And a raft?  Pretty sure that never really happened.


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